Reel Care Part I: The Do’s

Specializing in Shimano reels

Clean Equipment

Taking proper care of your baitcasting reels between scheduled servicing and or cleaning will help prevent additional cost in replacement of damaged parts and bearings. Specializing in Shimano reels, I have been cleaning and repairing all brands of baitcasters for myself and friends for the last 20 years and over this time I have learned a few things that will help you keep your equipment in the best shape possible between servicing.

Just like your car if you don’t take care of it, you are going  to be left stranded with equipment that doesn’t work, and we all know that this will happen and the most inopportune time, say in the first hour of a tournament. In the next couple paragraphs I will talk about several things you can do on a daily fishing trip basis that will keep your reels performing like you expect them too.

One of the best things you can do to improve the longevity of your equipment is to “store” it before road trips! All too often I see folks that have their rods and reels lying on the deck of the boat when heading to and from the lake. Road grime gets on the reels and works its way into the bearings, sand, dust, little pebbles, I have seen it all inside reels and this mostly comes from not putting your equipment up before road trips. Even if the forecast is for clear skies, you don’t know what you might run into in the way of road construction, someone trying to make the road grow by watering it, following a dump truck. Always put your rods and reels in the rod locker, in your tow vehicle, or at least put reel covers on before hitting the road.

Threw the course of a day of fishing your reel gets dirty for several reasons. Anything on your hands from fish scents to lunch gets deposited on the reel. However your line is the biggest culprit to dirtying up a reel. With each cast your line brings back in small particles of dirt, grass, oil, slim, algae, pollen, you name it and it’s probably floating on the surface of your lakes and rivers. As your line comes back to the reel, these deposits are splattered throughout the reel around the spool. Over time this debris works its way into the reel’s housing and bearings. After each fishing trip you should take the time to wipe your reels down by hand with a damp cloth. Pay close attention to the area around the spool and the line guide.

Many reels nowadays come with casting brake systems that allow you to change the brakes from on to off simply by removing the side plate and using your finger nail to click them into the desired position. The more brakes you have in the on position the more braking effect you have on your casts. Most of us don’t use all the brakes; we set them and forget about them. Over time the brakes that are in the on position wear and build up a dust residue on the pin that holds them. This residue, once it gets bad enough, will prevent the brake from sliding back and forth on the pin and working properly. Once this happens you may notice that one cast your reel works great but the next you get a small back lash and each cast is a little different. Every few trips change the brakes up; if you are only using two brakes, turn them off and pick a different set to turn on. Every couple months a very small drop of reel oil on each pin will help matters as well.

If you don’t clean and service the internal parts of your reels yourself, you should have it done professionally at least once a year depending on your fishing conditions. If you fish in clean clear open water, with little to no vegetation, there isn’t much for pollen or other small particles floating on your waterways, pay attention and keep them wiped down, and don’t fish in the rain much; once a year should be fine. However if you fish in waters that are high in deposits, lots of vegetation, constantly fishing in the rain because that’s all that happens on the weekend in the spring; you should look at having your reels professionally cleaned every six months.

In between servicing, it’s always a good idea to place a single drop of reel oil on each accessible bearing. Anything more than just a single drop is too much and will hinder performance more than help. Excess oil and grease attract debris and dust and will bind up the internal workings of your reel and bearings.

Watch for Part II of this series, were I will discuss the “Do Not’s” of reel care!

Get The Net, It’s a Hawg,
Mike Cork

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